Wednesday, April 09, 2008

In which I learn I am less flexible and more transparent that I envision myself to be

Recent events, like falling in love and getting engaged, have persuaded me to drop Jaded as a middle name. And have made me back away from my "get married in your 20s" directive.

And I am glad I waited this long and found this particular person. That said, I know for a fact that in my 20s it would have been much easier to walk into someone else's life and live there without a struggle.

Because, here you have two adults who have been living full, productive lives. Who, moreover, have been living alone, and have fully stocked their respective places. And have strong senses of who they are. And definite taste.

Who both have what most would probably agree is good taste. This taste, however, doesn't really converge at very many points. As in almost none.

I mean, we both like furniture. And appliances. We both like art.

Saying we have these things in common is like being all, "You like to eat when you're hungry, too?"

I like Nick's stuff. I just would never choose it. And he feels the same way about mine.

My furniture is a mix - old Thai teak furniture, which my mom had made by temple table carvers in Bangkok in the 60s - sat next to a contemporary, clean-lined glass coffee table. My bedroom has unexceptional but simple Scandinavian-designed furniture. The walls, the sheets, and the comforter are periwinkle. It's the softest, happiest color to wake up to.

I have a lot of ethnic art - mirrored tribal textiles from Rajasthan on the walls, statues of Hindu gods and goddesses, indigenous art from Ecuador. . .I lined my fireplace in orange poster paper - the same orange of my kitchen walls. And that's where my black stone Nandi, a statue I was given as a child, lives.

Nothing is designed to go together, but it's all my personality. None of it was planned; most of it was inherited, in one way or another.

Nick, on the other hand, has what one of our friends described as a "very grown up" place. Everything is big, solid, and well constructed of dark wood. He has beautiful antique furniture, carefully collected. He's clearly given some thought to how things will go together.

On his walls he has a lot of vintage maps, and prints of animals - ducks, for example, or hunting scenes. He also has a penchant for prints of old buildings. They're all nicely done and beautifully framed.

Not my taste, but tasteful. And I should mention that I like to think of myself as a supportive character, happy for him to have his taste and me to have mine.

So a few months ago, Nick and I went to an alumni event for his school. It had a silent auction, and one of the things you could bid on was a lithograph of one of the campus buildings - a fine piece of neoclassical American architecture.

Nick looked at it, put down a bid, and asked what I though. I replied in a vague yet supportive way. I thought.

But the next day, we were talking to Maude and Dan about the event. He said he'd won this framed print that he was excited about.

And then he said, "Lisa doesn't like it."

"Sure I like it!"

"I know for a fact you don't."

One of them asked how he knew.

"Because when I asked her what she thought of it she said, very politely, 'It looks like the kind of thing you like.' And then she added, 'You might really enjoy it at your office!'"


  1. Wow - he knows you so well! Best of luck with the merging of the stuff.

    "walk into someone else's life and live there", I'll be thinking about this line all day

  2. I walk the line of taste with clients every day. I tend to respond diplomatically, just as you did. As with shopping for clothing with friends, it is not as important what I think of an item, as whether or not you like it.

    I typically will ask a question in response to their question?

    "What do you think, SD?"
    "Well, do you like it, Client?"
    "Yes, I love it."
    "Then I think we shall have to find a way to work it in."

    It's all a little dance, because taste is so subjective, and while I have impeccable taste I would not think to foist it off onto others. I can guide but never strong arm.

    And like you, my house is a collection of fun and funk mixed with clean lined classic coffee tables and a Huge upholstered sodft bed, because it's just so delicious to wake up in.

    I had a BRIGHT grass green wall at one time. I'd hate for my house to look like a Pottery Barn catalog, so bereft of personality.

    I think that the blending of your two homes will be interesting.and will probably come up with some funky results at first, but like with all things, over time, you will learn how to blend things with harmony.

    Kind of like Pina Coladas.
    MMM. Blendy.

  3. It's not that you're transparent, it's just that he knows you really well, and can read you! THIS IS A GOOD THING!!!!! That said, hope he hangs the lithograph in his office and good luck with all the blending of the houses. It'll work out in the end, and you'll have a beautiful home, I'm sure.

  4. I think your comment was very, very tactful!!! No lies, no rudeness...nope. Tactful. Maybe you can eventually buy a place with a large basement, and move his less-wonderful-but-still appreciated items down there, into his own office/den. When I first got married, my husband had a few items that got their own area too. Who really needs a Kuwaiti tiger motif rug, right? And one blessed day, that part of the house flooded...

  5. I hesitate to write this because I was going to post about it, but...

    I was having a similar conversation with an artist friend of mine. We were talking about what the art people like (and buy) says about them. Happy people buy Anne Geddes prints and unhappy people buy Munch prints. We are drawn to things that are like us. So the things you choose to have around you (art, furniture etc.) says a lot about the way you see yourself.

    I broke up with a girl b/c she had a Jackson Pollock book on her coffee table. To me, what that said about her was "I am a sheep and I want people to think I am cultured, but I'm not willing to take the effort to develop my own tastes."

  6. (1) At least it wasn't a wagon-wheel coffee table.

    (2) You know, I kind of knew your place would be some lovely, eclectic amalgam.

    (3) I suspect that once one has seen you truly excited about something or someone (like, perhaps, Nick, who gets to see how excited you are about HIM every day), it becomes rather obvious when you're, you know... not. And I'm guessing Nick doesn't see that as a bad thing.

  7. um i know the wagon wheel coffee coffee table reference.

    Nice dagny!

  8. HKW - You are right. He does read me really well!

    Slightly Disorganized - Well done with clients! You are very diplomatic! I think that's the perfect way to put it - it'll be blendy. Eventually.

    Sarah - Yes, true! I hadn't thought of it that way until HKW and you said that. It is a good thing. :) And we'll work it all out, although currently my list for Things That Would Look Nice in Nick's Office is very long. Heh.

    Susan - "And one blessed day, that part of the house flooded..." Ha ha ha ha ha! That made me giggle out loud.

    HIN - I think that's true - particularly if you stop to think about art and have definite taste, it says a lot about you. Nick's very confident in his taste, and knows a lot about antique furniture and picks beautiful things. And I like the maps. It's all the animals and buildings that I'm all yawn-y over.

    Dagny - Hi lovely! Yes, as SD said, nice!
    1. Thankfully not a stupid wagon-wheel Roy Rogers garage sale coffee table.
    2. Thanks!
    3. I think that's absolutely right. I'm not subtle.

  9. So I was sitting on the couch one afternoon having a conversation with room mate #1 when in walks room mate #2 and his new girlfriend. They sit and join our conversation, which goes on for another hour or so. Eventually, girlfriend has too leave, so RM2 walks her to her car and then comes back in.

    Upon returning, the following conversation ensus:

    RM2: "So, you didn't like her." (directed at RM1)

    RM1: "What! I was polite. I didn't say anything offensive."

    RM2: "Exactly. With people you like, you can't go an hour without making some sort of sarcastic comment."

    My point being... exactly what Dagny wrote in her third comment.

  10. Well, the good thing is the honesty you share about your styles. I would have to say that marrying young had the advantage that we didn't have a lot of style we had to merge. However, I would also definitely not say it was easier that way. Each time I have an idea for a piece to add or a color to change, I think about it for a long time until I settle on what to do. Then, I present it to H and more often then not, he's not that into it.

    So, I've learned that if it feels right, I just do it. And I've found that almost every time, he find that he actually likes it. Sometimes, you just have to do what feels right.

    And it sounds like your styles wouldn't be too hard to merge. He likes maps and you like things from around the world. I'm sure it will turn out beautiful and eclectic.

  11. VVK - You are so right. When you know people really well, you just know.

    Amisare - Interesting. I suppose I hadn't thought about how you still have your own taste and might not agree, no matter how young you start being together. I love that you pointed out that he likes maps and I like things from around the world! I hadn't thought about it, but it's a nice blend.

  12. I'm guessing you are also not a spectacular poker player.

    But honestly, knowing "that would look good in your office" means you don't like it isn't specific to you. It just shows that you're a nice person. And that he's not dense. All good things, really. :)


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